Stéphane’s Station blog for Monday, April 20, 2015

A new beginning!

Every season has its charms. In spring, it is anticipation and excitement, especially if you are a birdwatcher. The first call of a Red-winged Blackbird over a snow-covered field makes your heart skip a beat: spring is in the air! It might take you a few seconds to register this new, but oh! so familiar, sound after a quiet winter sounds cape. Sometimes, the winter woods are only enlivened by the fiery Black-capped Chickadees. But, now, birds are certainly coming back. It is the raft of 60 Common Goldeneyes on a small opening in a frozen lake; a Robin pulling out a worm from a freshly cleared patch of grass; the melodious notes of a Fox Sparrow song early morning.

The Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory definitively feels the excitement and anticipation of a new spring season of bird migration monitoring at the Cabot Head Research Station. After a snowy and cold winter, Ontario Parks staff managed to get in on Tuesday, April 14th, not without getting stuck a little in the snow. And a few days later, allowing for more melt, a volunteer (Esme) and I (Stephane) made it to the station as well. It was time for spring cleaning and setting up the nets. All net lanes were clear of snow, except for C13 where a giant snowdrift has piled up. So, with the help of another volunteer (Blaine), 14 nets were set up and ready to go. Unfortunately, the weather man had other plans for us. Today (Monday the 20th), we woke up under a gray ceiling of clouds, very strong East wind, and rain. No nets were open on this official first day of monitoring! A short census was done and some observations too but the weather stayed bad all day and very few birds were observed.

In the few days we’ve been at the station, we’ve still managed to observe 53 species of birds, including Tree and Barn Swallows, one Brown Thrasher, Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers, American Tree Sparrows. There are some waterfowls in Wingfield Basin: Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks, the three species of Mergansers. The Bald Eagle pair is around too, with one adult observed picking up nest material from the shore. One Osprey in the wind and rain was showing off its flying prowess this morning, as it casually flew in conditions that most birds avoid.

Myself, I am also very excited to be back at Cabot Head, after exploring other horizons for 3 years. I feel so privileged to be working again in this incredibly beautiful place. Even when it’s cold and raining (or snowing), as we can expect for this week!